Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Cobb County activist Gerald Rose says he supports former Clayton County sheriff Victor Hill and will show that support next week when charges against Hill will be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment. Local resident, Stan Byars, makes his choice clear in his campaign T-shirt.
A Cobb County activist held a press conference Tuesday morning at the Clayton County Courthouse, to show support for a former sheriff under investigation for alleged wrongdoing while in office.
Gerald Rose, leader of a group called New Order, along with three others, spoke in support of Victor Hill, who faces possible indictment next week. A special prosecutor is expected to bring evidence of racketeering, lying, and theft against Hill, to a Clayton County grand jury on Jan. 18.
Hill maintains his innocence, said his attorney, Steve Frey.
Hill was elected the county's first black sheriff in 2004. On his first day in office, he unceremoniously fired about 30 deputies. The deputies sued and won a multi-million dollar settlement against the county. They were also rehired.
Hill served one term before being voted out in 2008, but plans to run again this year.
Rose said the likely prosecution is politically-motivated.
"It's four years later, and he's announced his candidacy, and it seems he's being attacked again," said Rose. "We want Victor Hill to know he's not alone. We plan to also be here Jan. 18, to support Mr. Hill."
Stan Byars, wearing a "Re-Elect Victor Hill" T-shirt, also questioned the timing of the investigation.
"Let's not have a witch hunt," said Byars. "Let's have accountability and be fair. He's accused of costing the county millions of dollars, but if you look at it, he didn't cost the county any money."
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, who took office after Hill left, appointed Alcovy Judicial Circuit Prosecutor Layla Zon to present the evidence against Hill. Lawson said she wants to avoid accusations of political impropriety.
Neither Hill, nor Frey, attended the press conference, but Rose said Hill asked for the support.
"Victor Hill knows we're here, he has legal representation," said Rose. "We have to ask these questions. That's correct, Victor Hill asked us to speak for him."
Byars said Hill is being unfairly targeted.
"People have teamed up against Victor Hill," said Byars. "Whether political or not, we're proud supporters of Victor Hill. It's clear his opponents agree that criminals are afraid of Victor Hill in Clayton County. You can call Victor Hill 'Batman' or 'Little Vic,' whatever, but even little children looked up to him."